Senator Alice-Mary Higgins responds to the ongoing impasse of the EU-Canada trade deal CETA

"The real issue here is not about Canada and it is not about Wallonia, it is about the stubborn refusal, particularly by the European Commission, to acknowledge that the inclusion of special investor courts in international trade agreements is simply not appropriate or acceptable."

Responding to the ongoing impasse of the EU-Canada trade deal CETA, Senator Alice-Mary Higgins today said:

"The real issue here is not about Canada and it is not about Wallonia, it is about the stubborn refusal, particularly by the European Commission, to acknowledge that the inclusion of special investor courts in international trade agreements is simply not appropriate or acceptable."

“There is an opportunity now to revisit the text of CETA and look at the terms of the agreement to ensure that the legitimate concerns raised by EU and Canadian citizens are addressed. Europe can and should deliver better, fairer, trade deals, free from the dangers posed by investor courts and other poorly designed elements”.

The proposed Investor Court System would operate separately from either European or Canadian courts and would allow companies to sue states for significant compensation whenever a new regulation is deemed to impact on their expected future profits. Rulings under similar mechanisms elsewhere in the world have often been for vast sums and are widely regarded to have a chilling effect on regulation in areas such as the environment, health and workers rights.

"The ongoing attempts to slip these courts into 'new generation' trade deals such as TTIP and CETA is not only bad for public policy,  it is legally dubious. The German Constitutional Court has asked for assurances on this issue and many feel that signing should wait until the European Court of Justice has made a proper ruling on this".

Senator Higgins pointed out that aside from the motion against provisional application of CETA which passed in the Seanad and was disregarded by the Irish Government, Belgium is the only EU member state where parliamentary debate of this agreement has actually taken place.

“It’s not that Wallonian parliamentarians have a different view from others, it is simply that they have had a chance to express it. Indeed, their concerns, particularly in relation to corporate courts, are shared by many parliamentarians and members of the public across Europe. I hope we might now have a chance to actually address these concerns and remove investor courts from all future trade deals.” 

“Improving the design and text of trade deals to transparently and fully address these important public concerns will strengthen the European project  and may indeed make it more possible to deliver future trade deals, for example with the UK”.

ENDS

For interviews contact Ciara Gaynor on 083 1840496, alicemary.higgins@oireachtas.ie

More Stories